Games like Color Slayer open up an internal debate within me regarding whether “value for money” should or shouldn’t be a consideration when writing a game review. To put this into context, this game costs £1.69 on the UK PSN store. I’ve paid more than that for a bag of Revels at the cinema and you’d be surprised how much in common Colour Slayer has with the bag of random chocolates. Neither last very long in my company, both of them have some good and bad elements, both have an element of chance involved and I’ll never pay that much for either of them again.
Color Slayer is an arcade-like lane runner akin to Neon Drive, Amplitude, Entwined and even Beat Sabre. You play as a character gliding down a procedurally generated track. This character is carrying 2 short staffs – 1 pink and 1 a blue-purple colour. While she’s barrelling down this path, free to move left and right across 4 lanes, she can swing those poles with a press of the L2 and R2. The idea of the game is to swing the correctly coloured staff at coloured obstacles as they speed towards you. Fail to do so and glide through a coloured obstacle and you’ll lose a life. Do that 3 times and your run is over.
The concept for the game is fine. It’s a passable twist and amalgamation of a few genres which sound’s fun on paper. It’s the execution and the scope that leaves a lot to be desired. Obstacles come in only a handful of formations – a group of 4 gates closely placed together, single gates, solitary moving targets, solitary moving walls and static slalom obstacles – that randomly spawn and repeat. The other feature of the play is a coloured gateway which changes the colour of the staff’s the character is carrying to either yellow, red, green or blue. Shortly after hitting the gate, a barrier will appear with each lane of the track representing a different hue. Hit the part of the obstacle with the same colour as your staffs and you’ll pass by unscathed, Unfortunately, even this aspect can’t make the game feel much more varied and within 5 minutes of game play, you’ll have seen everything that this game has to offer.
The aim of the game then? Well, there’s no end to it. It just keeps going through the same obstacles over and over while you rack up scores for smashing away obstacles and distance travelled for the length of time you stay alive. There’s a leaderboard for each metric, both solo runs and cumulative.
It might be difficult to motivate yourself to bother with them though as there’s some annoying aspects to the game play. Take this for example – you start each run with 3 lives. Once they’ve gone, it’s game over. Now, there’s one particular obstacle, a collection of 4 gates that test you to press L2 or R2 precisely and repeatedly. Each of these 4 coloured gates that you miss will cost you a life. If you miss the first though, say by pressing the button a tad too early, it’s damn near impossible to right yourself ready for the second gate. That gate will cost you a life too. Unlike other games that give you a moment of invulnerability to overcome a handful of mistakes, Color Slayer just kicks you while you’re down. There’s been more than a few runs that have lasted less than a minute because I’ve flubbed the first gate and lost all 3 lives at the first hurdle. This is even more difficult to gauge when the track bends. When the track approaches the top of the screen, you get less time to evaluate what buttons you need to press.
Then there’s the white gates. Miss a coloured gate and a life gets deducted from your total. Miss a White gate? Game over. It doesn’t matter how many lives you have. It’s back to the start. Harsh.
These issues are confounded by a feeling of sluggishness and inaccuracy in everything from the movement to the staff swings. Eventually, you’ll learn to compensate for them but don’t be surprised if your first few runs last a matter of seconds.
One of the smallest yet most irritating bugbears about Color Slayer is that once all your lives are gone and your run is over, there’s an odd 8-9 second delay before you can start again when it feels like the game just freezes up, showing you your final score. Eventually a “Try Again” button appears on screen but for a game that’s so immediate and fast paced, that delay feels like an eternity.
Thankfully, the soundtrack to Color Slayer is awesome. A bit of trance, some dance remakes and a whole lot of fast paced bass make for some really excellent listening while playing. It’s a shame then that, unlike so many of its peers, the rhythm of the music seems to have nothing to do with the game play. Obstacles don’t really appear on beats and seem ultimately random.
Visually, Color Slayer is a mix of odd basics and neat little touches. When you’re focused on the gameplay, it’s easy to miss some of the nicer effects the game has going on like the streaming colorful environment passing you by or the particles left behind after battering a target. This is in stark contrast to the character model for the heroin which looks like it was made out of pipe cleaners with animations to match.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is designed for games like Color Slayer which is a budget game with a tiny price and a ton of frustrating elements.
This game won’t even be a footnote in the history of the genre but if you can stomach the repetition, it might kill a few hours between other titles.
Color Slayer is available now on PS4 (reviewed), PSVita and PC via Steama and itch.io
Developer: The Domaginarium
Publisher: The Domaginarium
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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